Taking advantage of an opportunity

A twist of fate led Rochester (NY) native Chauncey Scissum to Syracuse, and he is taking advantage of it this spring.

It was a tumultuous time for Syracuse football nearly 15 months ago when then head coach Doug Marrone left his alma mater for the Buffalo Bills and the lure of the NFL. Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer was promoted to Marrone's old position shortly thereafter.

Chauncey Scissum, a long, lean athlete from nearby Rochester (N.Y.) was passed over by Marrone during the recruiting process. But Shafer coveted the skill set he brought to the table as a defensive back.

Shortly after Shafer took the reigns, he got in touch with Scissum to inform him of Syracuse's new interest given the coaching change. Shafer was calling the shots now, and he wanted Scissum.

The local three-star prospect was committed to Old Dominion, but the tug of the big in-state school was too much to resist. Scissum signed with Syracuse as his football career took a sudden turn just as the Orange program did the same.

Now, he is in his first spring on campus as he wraps up his redshirt freshman year. Scissum has transformed his body over the past nine months, from tall and a bit lanky to ripped and strong.

Officially, it's only a ten pound difference. Entering college, Scissum was listed at 195-pounds. When the spring began, Syracuse has him up to 205. But the change is much more dramatic than a simple ten pounds.

His shoulders are broader, forearms bigger and legs thicker. He's an intimidating presence at safety with the instincts and athleticism to make plays.

The strength and conditioning program has done wonders from Scissum, who now transitions from corner to safety. His play during the spring session has earned the praise of his coaches as he looks to earn the primary backup spot to Darius Kelly at free safety.

"Chauncey Scissum, the last two practices, has had three or four interceptions," Shafer said on Tuesday.

Shafer has echoed similar remarks during each media session, specifically mentioning Scissum as one of the standouts.

The safety position has lost starter Jeremi Wilkes from last season, and leaves an opportunity for playing time without significant experienced depth. Yes Durell Eskridge will be back from injury in the fall, and Darius Kelly and Ritchy Desir will command playing time.

But if Scissum continues to make plays, the Syracuse coaches won't be able to keep him off the field. He could see time in the okie package as he eases into game experience.

The future is bright for the former three-star prospect from just an hour and a half down the thruway. From a once passed over talent by FBS programs to playmaker that could be a multi-year starter if he continues to develop.

All because of a coaching change.

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